For the first time in history, the humanoid robot participated in the bell ringing ceremony

The humanoid robot industry in the Greater Bay Area is facing an inflection point

Fantasy is moving further into reality. On the last trading day of 2023, a special gong ringer came to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange: a humanoid robot held a gavel and sounded the opening gong with the founder, and the long-awaited "first share of humanoid robot" UBTECH landed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. This is the first time in history that the humanoid robot participated in the bell ringing listing ceremony, which earned enough eyeballs for this robot company from Shenzhen, and also polished the "Chinese business card" of the humanoid robot track in the world.

Now, on the golden track of humanoid robots, which leads to the next era of science and technology, is Guangdong ready? What explorations have been made? What other application scenarios do humanoid robots have given the world a new look?

The inflection point came in:

The explosion of large AI models

Founded in Shenzhen in 2012, UBTECH is one of the first companies in China to begin to develop humanoid robots, and it is also one of the very few companies in the world with full-stack technical capabilities for humanoid robots. According to the prospectus, as of June 2023, 6, UBTECH has 30,1800 patents related to robotics and artificial intelligence, of which more than 380 are overseas patents.

"UBTECH is building our own full-stack technologies on the road to the humanoid robot industry, and these full-stack technologies can be reduced in different fields." Zhou Jian, founder, chairman and CEO of UBTECH, said. In his speech at the annual meeting on the day of listing, he had a more sci-fi imagination for the future: "Humanoid robots are a huge golden track in the future, and they will definitely become a real intelligent terminal in the future." ”

From movies to reality, the inflection point of the humanoid robot industry appeared in the explosion of AI large models. With the advent of generative artificial intelligence such as ChatGPT, the evolution of the "brain" of humanoid robots has begun to "leap forward". For example, UBTECH's panda robot "Youyo" has been able to understand the meaning of "on fire", deduced that "vitamin supplements are needed to alleviate symptoms", and will also intimately ask "do you want to eat fruits".

China Securities Construction Investment pointed out in the research report that humanoid robots have a wide range of application scenarios and are a powerful supplement to industrial robots and other automation equipment, and their global market space can reach trillions. Goldman Sachs believes that under an ideal state, the humanoid robot market is expected to reach a scale of $2035 billion by 1540, close to 2022/1 of the global electric vehicle market and the global smartphone market in 3.

Industry insiders believe that humanoid robots that integrate advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, high-end manufacturing, and new materials are expected to become subversive products after computers, smart phones, and new energy vehicles, and become an important part of the global industrial competition.

In December 2023, Tesla released the second-generation humanoid robot Optimus Prime Gen12. Looking at the world, Amazon, OpenAI, Samsung, Dyson and other companies have also deployed humanoid robots through investment, self-research and other ways.

In addition to UBTECH, Chinese companies such as Xiaomi, iFLYTEK, and ByteDance have also entered the humanoid robot track to reshape the global industrial development pattern.

At the policy level, in October 2023, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of the People's Republic of China issued the "Guiding Opinions on the Innovation and Development of Humanoid Robots", proposing that by 10, China's humanoid robot innovation system will be initially established, and a number of key technologies such as "brain, cerebellum, and limbs" will make breakthroughs, and the whole machine products will reach the international advanced level and achieve mass production. By 2025, the technological innovation ability of humanoid robots will be significantly improved, a safe and reliable industrial chain and supply chain system will be formed, the comprehensive strength will reach the world's advanced level, and the industry will accelerate its large-scale development.

A new blue ocean is slowly opening.

Guangdong Humanoid Robot

Industrial clusters are gradually taking shape

Guangdong has a deep layout in the humanoid robot industry. According to the query data of Qichamao, as of August 2023, there are 8 related humanoid robot enterprises in Guangdong, ranking first. A number of intelligent robot backbone enterprises such as UBTECH and Leju Robot have emerged.

Like the automotive industry, humanoid robots also have a complex and sophisticated software and hardware industry chain system, which drives the development of upstream core components such as artificial intelligence, related control systems and reducers, sensors, motors, and computer vision. At present, a number of industry-leading humanoid robot industry chain enterprises have emerged in Guangdong, such as Obi Zhongguang focusing on visual perception, Inovance focusing on ball/ball screw, and Haozhi Electromechanical focusing on harmonic reducer and frameless torque motor.

According to Tan Min, chief brand officer of UBTECH, the synergy of the industrial chain is very important for the development of humanoid robots: "From R&D, design to production, the Greater Bay Area has the world's leading intelligent manufacturing foundation. In terms of talents, supply chain, etc., it has provided a great boost to the development of the humanoid robot industry. ”

On the one hand, in Guangdong, a complete intelligent manufacturing system provides strong support. The "China Robot Technology and Industry Development Report (2023)" pointed out that China's high-quality robot enterprises are mainly distributed in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, the Yangtze River Delta and the Pearl River Delta region, and under the leadership of local high-quality enterprises, a number of cutting-edge enterprises with strong competitiveness in the subdivided fields have emerged. Shenzhen has built a service robot cluster, Dongguan focuses on the core components of robots, Foshan accelerates the layout of the middle and lower reaches of the industrial chain, and Guangzhou leads the R&D and manufacturing of robots... With Shenzhen as the center, an industrial cluster with a promising future is gradually taking shape.

On the other hand, the new quality productivity bred by scientific and technological innovation is taking the lead and fighting for the future for the Guangdong humanoid robot industry.

As early as 2020, Guangdong issued the "Guangdong Province Action Plan for Cultivating Strategic Emerging Industrial Clusters of Intelligent Robots (2021-2025)", focusing on technological innovation, focusing on supporting the improvement of key components and core software technology, and breaking through bottlenecks.

In May 2023, Shenzhen also issued an action plan to accelerate the development and application of artificial intelligence, the key of the plan is to strengthen the main position of enterprise innovation and improve the industrial innovation platform system. In June of that year, UBTECH was successfully selected as the first batch of intelligent robot application demonstration typical cases with driving effect and demonstration significance in Shenzhen, and is taking the lead in preparing for the construction of Guangdong Humanoid Robot Manufacturing Innovation Center.

The accumulation of bits and pieces is promoting the inflection point of the humanoid robot industry in Guangdong. The advantages of collaborative innovation in the industrial chain of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area are giving birth to the large-scale application of humanoid robots to accelerate the landing.

Humanoid robots

Accelerate the expansion of application scenarios

In front of the neatly displayed factory shelves, UBTECH Walker X identifies the parts that need to be picked, independently plans the grabbing path, and easily completes the grabbing with a pair of skillful hands. Then, with an even pace, it sends the picked parts to the waiting AGV trolley.

"Humanoid robots also have stronger decision-making ability, dexterous hands have stronger grasping ability, and can also replace different fixtures to complete different types of work, covering almost all non-standard tasks that humans can do." UBTECH CTO Xiong Youjun said.

The scene is still expanding, and UBTECH's first batch of humanoid robots Walker X has landed in NEOM New Future City in Saudi Arabia, becoming the first generation of large-scale humanoid robot citizens to provide intelligent services. The Walker S focuses on industrial scenarios and is committed to working collaboratively with traditional automation equipment in the future super unmanned factory.

In addition, in many scenarios such as education and training, elderly care, rehabilitation and scientific research, there are opportunities for humanoid robots to show their talents.

Height 1.65 meters, weight 55 kg, a fast walking, agile obstacle avoidance, not only want to be a doctor, but also hope to be a driver, cook, firefighter humanoid robot, a few days ago in the Shanghai Science and Technology Innovation Achievement Exhibition in the future park of Zhangjiang Science City, this general humanoid robot GR-1 from Fourier Intelligence, full of eye-catching.

At Tokyo's Shintomi Nursing Home, elderly people sit in a circle following fitness instructions. The fitness trainer who commands them, named Pepper, is a big-eyed humanoid robot built by telecom and internet giant SoftBank.

"In the future, we will continue to focus on the three directions of the humanoid robot track, first, the factory application scenario, we are now in constant communication with many new energy vehicle companies, and strive for our humanoid robots to undertake some work; The second is commercial services, which we are already trying to apply to the ground; Third, we will also develop humanoid robots for family companionship. Zhou Jian said.

However, if humanoid robots want to enter ordinary people's homes like smartphones, the industry generally believes that there is still a long way to go. For example, further breakthroughs in artificial intelligence, the reduction of large-scale commercial costs of products, and the continuous investment of talents and capital.

As Tan Min said, the exploration of humanoid robots is quite challenging, and it is a path that requires long-termism, but we will eventually usher in a better tomorrow that makes human life truly convenient.

point of view

Yang Ling, analyst of CCID Consulting Intelligent Equipment Industry Research Center:

From the laboratory to industrialization, the next 3 to 5 years is a critical period

"The development of humanoid robots is a forward-looking layout of the future industry, and the next 3 to 5 years will be a key cultivation period for humanoid robots from the laboratory to industrialization." According to Yang Ling, an analyst at CCID Consulting Intelligent Equipment Industry Research Center, humanoid robots will drive a series of key technological innovations such as "brain", "cerebellum" and "limbs", and breakthroughs in key products such as complete machines and software, and the promotion and application of related technologies and products have a great role in promoting the formation of new productivity.

Yang Ling believes that at present, humanoid robots have received widespread attention in the industry, on the one hand, due to the increasing maturity of artificial intelligence technologies such as machine learning Xi, voice recognition, image recognition, and core components such as chips and high-precision motors, so that humanoid robots have a realistic foundation for industrialization from the laboratory. On the other hand, general artificial intelligence has become a new hot spot in the field of artificial intelligence, and its application imagination is huge, and humanoid robots, as the best hardware to carry this technology, have naturally attracted much attention. "The intervention of cross-border enterprises has accelerated the pace of industrialization of humanoid robots, and the time point for its commercial application has also been greatly advanced." Yang Ling said.

From the perspective of industry development, Yang Ling believes that the current development of humanoid robots has a direct role in promoting the application of advanced robot ontology manufacturing, system integration and intelligent algorithms.

From the perspective of input and output, it is difficult to judge or demonstrate whether it is worth investing or how much resources should be invested directly from the data level. "But whether it is the development and application of humanoid robots or other new technologies, the value and imagination space created by them are huge." Yang Ling said.

In Yang Ling's view, humanoid robots have to go through at least three stages from product advent to practical application, namely the functional iteration stage, the product iteration stage and the integration expansion stage. At present, humanoid robots are basically in the early stage of functional iteration, and the key factors affecting the landing of humanoid robots are the technical maturity and the support capacity of the relevant supporting industrial chains, as well as the early boost of industrial capital.

"In the future, humanoid robots are expected to achieve more complex, flexible and changeable scenario applications such as special, industrial, and service scenarios by virtue of their outstanding performance in human-computer interaction capabilities, autonomous decision-making for complex tasks, and situational awareness. It is necessary to further stimulate the innovation vitality of industries and enterprises, plan a number of application scenarios with strong characteristics in a forward-looking manner, and promote the acceleration of product industrialization. Yang Ling said.

Written by: Nanfang Daily reporter Xu Ningning, Li He, Chang Daoli Coordinator: Yuan Peiru

(Nanfang Daily)